Attorney Parks Tafa and his law firm, Collins Newman & Co, have once again triumphed over the Law Society of Botswana (LSB), this time around at the Appeals Court as they foiled the Law Society’s bid to have Tafa’s recent High Court victory heard on urgency.
LSB was challenging the recent High Court decision to restore Tafa and his law firm, Collins Newman & Co, into legal practice.
Dismissing the LSB’s case, Justice Singh Walia said the Society failed to advance any exceptional circumstances, nor had they advanced any good and substantial reasons for the expedited hearing of the appeal.
Walia then ordered that the matter will be listed for hearing in its turn following compliance with the rules relating to security for costs and costs of record.
Justice Walia also dismissed the Law Society’s basis for appeal as merely speculative, after it argued that it had been compelled to suspend disciplinary hearings of a number of cases involving trust account improprieties while waiting for the conclusion of the appeal to direct them how to deal with other firms under curatorship whose accounts reflect deficits.
However, the Appeals Court found that the LSB’s decision to suspend its disciplinary processes was a knee-jerk reaction to an apprehension of some unexplained future conduct of some unnamed attorneys taking some action that might be harmful to the Society. “It is the Society’s concern that less than honourable attorneys might take advantage of the judgement to make up for the deficiencies in their trust accounts by injecting their own funds,” he said in the ruling.
“I cannot accept the Society’s misperceived concerns as reasons for the hearing of their appeal on urgency.”
Justice Walia also said he was unable to find how any uncertainty is created in the minds of the
Walia further said the Society concedes that each one of the attorneys now under curatorship has accepted his or her fate and there is no challenge to any of the curatorship orders. The Judge also said he found it impossible to categorise all deficiencies in trust accounts under the rubric of mismanagement, as deficiencies may arise by theft, or in the case of Tafa, imperfections in accounting systems, and said each case must be dealt with according to its peculiar circumstances.
The tussle between the Law Society and Tafa started on June 10, 2019, when the names of Collins Newman & Co and five of his partners and associates were removed from the roll.
Then the Law Society placed the company under curatorship, with George Simango as curator on July 4 confirmed on August 3, but Tafa and Collins Newman & Co launched counter application placed on August 5 before Justice Lekorwe.On August 30, Lekorwe ruled in favour of Collins Newman & Co and set aside the decision of the fidelity board secretary to refuse the law firm with trust account certificate, also known as fidelity fund certificate.
Deputy Registrar and Master, Takura Chakumbira was ordered to issue Collins Newman & Co or Tafa with fidelity fund certificate, for the year ending December 31, 2019, and Simango was ordered to issue practicing certificates to Collins Newman & Co, upon presentation of fidelity fund certificate, and payment of prescribed fees, and restore their names to the register.